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South Florida Based Navy SEALs Continue Mercy Missions To Hurricane Ravaged Bahamas

NASSAU (CBSMiami) – There is a Tropical Storm warning for the northwestern Bahamas due to a disturbance expected to become a Tropical Storm this weekend. It is the same region decimated earlier this month, when Hurricane Dorian swept through as a monster category 5 hurricane, killing at least 50 people.

CBS News correspondent Errol Barnett spoke to residents in the Bahamas while visiting two remote islands with a group of retired Navy SEALs based in South Florida, who were on a mercy mission to deliver food and supplies.

Many residents there told Barnett they are angry with the Bahamian government for not providing more aid. They said the only assistance they've gotten has come from foreigners and that they're still living without cell service, power, and running water. When asked what he'd gotten from the Bahamian government, resident Barry Cooper said "nothing at all!"

The Bahamian government said it's coordinating relief efforts from Nassau. But since most of the field teams come from private foreign aid groups, that's all the residents in hard-hit communities see.

Barnett and the Navy SEALs had to use a combination of seaplanes and small boats to reach the remote areas destroyed by Dorian.

Seaplane Lands Sweeting Cay Bahamas Dorian
Seaplane lands off Sweeting Cay, Bahamas (CBS4)

"For me and the guys of my company, it's basically just that continued want to give back, and just continue serving after service," said Mike Oberhelman.

There is no landing area on one remote island, Sweetings Cay, so the boat touched down on the open ocean and transferred to a smaller vessel, which brought relief supplies ashore.

The boat's arrival set off an urgent scramble by the residents of this small fishing community, once home to around 100 people. Now, only 26 remain who hope to rebuild.

Sweeting Cay Bahamas Dorian Damage
Damage in Sweeting Cay, Bahamas (CBS4)

Nolan Cooper is one of those survivors. Aid only started reaching his community about four days ago, more than a week after Dorian stalled directly on top of it for almost 30 straight hours.

"Are you still surprised at how powerful this was?" Barnett asked.

"More than surprised," Cooper said. "They say it was a Category 5, I say it was a Cat 6!"

The retired U.S. service members plan to keep flying these aid missions as long as there are donations and funding. Now with another storm on the way, they are racing the weather to get shelter to those most in need.

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